I have a bit of an enforced media amnesty happening about my Big Mountains Adventure to Nepal last month. I hope to have that cleared up soon enough but for now here is an excerpt from my diary in Nepal. It contains nothing groundbreaking, but you know that already if you have checked this blog before.
Vancouver to Beijing: Air China is like a boot stomping on my face. No on-demand entertainment system for an eleven hour flight. Best choice of four flicks was Transformers 3. Subsequently I read a good proportion of my bad choice airport purchase, Booky Wook 2, the overly verbose bunch of bollocks about Russel Brand.
Dinner comes around and I’m offered shrimp or chicken. Chicken seems like the least dangerous option even though I know that the food on airplanes has a pretty impressive half-life. I open my well wrapped food parcel and discover that it is clearly shrimp. When I ask the stewardess to change it she scowls, shrugs and tells me they are all out of chicken. I’m frankly a little astonished as she hasn’t moved more than one row and we are sitting near the front of the cabin so I don’t quite see how it could be finished yet. It clearly isn’t the case and I’m not even that bothered about what I eat, it’s the thought that counts. After ten minutes she come back, drops the chicken on the tray in front of me. She turns away then remembers something. She leans in and moves to take the shrimp away from me. I stop her and shake my head. If she is going to be a turd about it then I’m going to keep the shrimp just to spite her. The booze trolley seems to never come around again.
Beijing: Massive space. Vast. Beyond necessary. Despite the space the officials here have no idea about effectively managing queues because instead of neat lines we are herded into piles. A sign tells me that there is strictly no semen smuggling and no one is allowed to be found in possession of semen. I wonder how they are going to search for this.
Beijing to Delhi: I didn’t think things could get any worse than the first flight but they do. This time there is zero entertainment for seven hours. Yup, not a single screen playing anything. seven hours feels longer than eleven. I read most of Booky Wook 2. I feel like I’m developing Stockholm Syndrome because I’m almost starting to like it.
Delhi airport: It is a joke getting bags through here. It is like this is the first time they have ever had to deal with bags going through their airport. Passports are taken, money exchanged, promises made, promises broken and we are told to line up half a dozen times only to get to the front and be told it is the wrong queue. Two hours to get a boarding pass to allow us to get out of Delhi. We are getting tired now.
Delhi to Kathmandu: Best flight yet. On-demand entertainment. Good food. Good movie. Clean cabin. Only a 90 minute flight. Shame.
Kathmandu: Early morning arrival despite losing a day and adding years of stress on the journey. Getting entry visa is easy. It does take four chaps to process the visa through. One to check your form, one to take money, one to stick visa in passport, and one to sign it. This wouldn’t be half as ridiculous if it wasn’t for the fact that they all sit next to one another in a cubicle that should only fit two people.
It is warm and smoggy. No view of mountains. Eat a delightful lunch and then ride into the city. High speed traffic surfing. Seeing gaps open and close. Dodging, preempting, judging, sliding into spaces that appear and disappear. Hooting, honking, beeping. Non-stop sound. Not aggressive, just communication.
We slide off the road and onto a square where deities, erotic art, pagodas, wood carvings, hustlers and crowds abound. There is even the living goddess in residence. We push out bikes further in until the crowd squeezes every last gap closed. Good vibes though. I’ve never felt so calm in a storm. I’ve never seen a wild storm seem so calm. Smiles and no malice. Almost trapped. Escape. Hit the road again. Must be rush hour because the traffic chaos is doubled. It’s the most invigorating ride I’ve ever had.
Go out for a meal. Halfway through I start to feel what it must be like to start to trip or come up on some sort of wild drug. There is a distance to reality. I still hold conversations but there is a disconnect with my eyes. They are slow to focus as I pan across the room. Maybe it is the fatigue of travel, it has been two and half days since I slept. This is a first world problem.
Day whatever (still in Kathmandu): Up early, too early. Hit road for Shivapuri National Park. Easy ride down. Smells fragrant and pungent like Jamaica. Feels warmer than I expected. Much warmer.
Go to Bhaktapur Square for lunch at 4pm. Old town, old markets, old architecture, old agriculture. Even in the wild queues and down alleys there is a marvelous welcoming vibe, and not just for our dollar. Open, warm, no malice, no sneers. Lights and candles and tea lights lit for Ox day. Serpents pool, 55 window palace, shitting dogs and architecture designed by royal family to increase procreation. The whole of the buildings exterior are made of erotic carvings that was meant to inspire people to give it and get it. Not much more than a few boobs though. I’ve seen more erotic art in The Sun newspaper.
Sunrise over the Himalayas: As the rising sun begins to illuminate the sky and chase stars across an indigo ocean, the Himalayas come into view. At first a silhouette of jagged peaks atop a sentinels back stretch from East to West. It appears as if the Himalayas are a giant breaking wave. A geological tsunami rising far out to sea. The mountains are still far away – two days walk we are told. I have no idea how far you can walk in two days. Then as the suns lifts more, but still isn’t visible, the peaks of snow capped mountains light up as if from within. The building wave looks more ferocious and foreboding as if the lit peaks are the white caps of a breaking wave.
We spend the day whizzing through villages blowing minds with wheelies.
Toilet culture: I’d expected the worse. Long drops with no paper, super squats, flys etc. But in fact it’s very modern in a lot of places. They have even developed a bathroom combo that I would like to have in my own home: The Shoilet. A shower head above the toilet means you can get clean as you do the dirty. Killing two birds with one stone.